T. H. White, fully Terence Hanbury White

T. H.
White, fully Terence Hanbury White
1906
1964

English Author best known for Arthurian novels including "The Once and Future King"

Author Quotes

Ther days may come,/Ther days may go,/But still the light of Mem'ry weaves/Those gentle dreams/Of long ago

We begin to forget, as we go stolidly balancing along, that there could have been a time when we were young bodies flaming with the impetus of life. It is hardly consoling to remember such a feeling, and so it deadens in our minds.

He was like a distracted man doing two things at once, one of them important and the other unimportant. He felt a duty to the unimportant one.

If it takes a million years for a fish to become a reptile, has Man, in our few hundred, altered out of recognition?

It was not exactly that they were afraid of being beaten if she came up. They adored her dumbly and uncritically, because her character was stronger than theirs. Nor had they been forbidden to talk after bedtime. It was more as if she had brought them up—perhaps through indifference or through laziness or even through some kind of possessive cruelty—with an imperfect sense of right and wrong. It was as if they could never know when they were being good or when they were being bad.

Mordred and Agravaine thought Arthur hypocritical—as all decent men must be, if you assume that decency can’t exist.

The destiny of Man is to unite, not to divide. If you keep on dividing you end up as a collection of monkeys throwing nuts at each other out of separate trees.

There is a thing about Time and Space which the philosopher Einstein is going to find out. Some people call it Destiny. But both sides always say that the other side started them.

We cannot build the future by avenging the past.

All these problems and feelings fade away when we get the seventh sense. Middle-aged people can balance between believing in God and breaking all the commandments, without difficulty.

For I am inclined to believe that my beloved Arthur of the future is sitting at this very moment among his learned friends, in the Combination Room of the College of Life, and that they are thinking away in there for all they are worth, about the best means to help our curious species: and I for one hope that someday, when not only England but the World has need of them, and when it is ready to listen to reason, if it ever is, they will issue forth from their wrath in joy and power: and then perhaps, they will give us happiness in the world once more and chivalry, and the old medieval blessing of certain simple people - who tried, at any rate, in their own small way, to still the ancient brutal dream of Attila the Hun.

And do you know another thing, Arthur? Life is too bitter already, without territories and wars and noble feuds.

For in those days love was ruled by a different convention to ours. In those days it was chivalrous, adult, long, religious, almost platonic. It was not a matter about which you could make accusations lightly. It was not, as we take it to be nowadays, begun and ended in a long week-end.

Anyone would think that you enjoyed watching people being burned.

Funny, said Lancelot, how the people who can’t pray say that prayers are not answered, however much the people who can pray say they are.

Aviators live by hours, not by days.

Further back, there were times when we wondered with all our souls what the world was, what love was, what we were ourselves.

Because Lancelot is stronger than others, and always stands for the Queen, it does not mean that the Queen is always in the right.

Gawaine and Gareth took turns with the fat ass, one of them whacking it while the other rode bareback.

But it seems, in tragedy, that innocence is not enough.

Gawaine made an effort to be conciliatory. He was not a conciliatory man, so the effort looked actually physical, like an earthquake.

But there was a time when each of us stood naked before the world, confronting life as a serious problem with which we were intimately and passionately concerned. There was a time when it was of vital interest to us to find out whether there was a God or not. Obviously the existence or otherwise of a future life must be of the very first importance to somebody who is going to live her present one, because her manner of living it must hinge on the problem. There was a time when Free Love versus Catholic Morality was a question of as much importance to our hot bodies as if a pistol had been clapped to our heads.

Guenever never cared for God. She was a good theologian, but that was all. The truth was that she was old and wise: she knew that Lancelot did care for God most passionately, that it was essential he should turn in that direction. So, for his sake, to make it easier for him, the great queen now renounced what she had fought for all her life, now set the example, and stood to her choice. She had stepped out of the picture.

But they woke him with words, their cruel bright weapons.

He caught a glimpse of that extraordinary faculty in man, that strange, altruistic, rare, and obstinate decency which will make writers or scientists maintain their truths at the risk of death. Eppur si muove, Galileo was to say; it moves all the same. They were to be in a position to burn him if he would go on with it, with his preposterous nonsense about the earth moving round the sun, but he was to continue with the sublime assertion because there was something which he valued more than himself. The Truth. To recognize and to acknowledge What Is. That was the thing which man could do, which his English could do, his beloved, his sleeping, his now defenseless English. They might be stupid, ferocious, unpolitical, almost hopeless. But here and there, oh so seldom, oh so rare, oh so glorious, there were those all the same who would face the rack, the executioner, and even utter extinction, in the cause of something greater than themselves. Truth, that strange thing, the jest of Pilate's. Many stupid young men had thought they were dying for it, and many would continue to die for it, perhaps for a thousand years. They did not have to be right about their truth, as Galileo was to be. It was enough that they, the few and martyred, should establish a greatness, a thing above the sum of all they ignorantly had.

Author Picture
First Name
T. H.
Last Name
White, fully Terence Hanbury White
Birth Date
1906
Death Date
1964
Bio

English Author best known for Arthurian novels including "The Once and Future King"